NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
Feb 18, 2005
Media Contact: Army Public Affairs - (703) 692-2000 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting
Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Private First Class Michael A. Arciola, 20, of Elmsford, New York, died February 15, 2005, in Al
Ramadi, Iraq, from injuries sustained from enemy small arms fire. Arciola was assigned to the
1st Battalion, 503d Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Casey, Korea.
For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
Elmsford soldier's body returns home
By JOSEPH AX
Courtesy of the Journal News
24 February 2005
ELMSFORD, New York — As grieving residents watched mutely, a gray hearse carrying the
body of 20-year-old Army Private First Class Michael Arciola slowly made its way down Main
Street to a funeral home yesterday evening.
Firefighters in formal uniform bore the flag-draped coffin into the McElroy-Flynn Funeral Home
just after 6 p.m., bringing full circle a lifelong journey that began in Elmsford with Arciola's
childhood dreams of joining the military and ended in western Iraq last week when he was
felled by enemy gunfire.
Friends stood on both sides of the street, hugging each for comfort, as well as for warmth, in
the stiff wintry wind.
As the procession passed through two rows of saluting firefighters into the home, only muffled
sobs and the distant whirring of a news helicopter's rotors high above broke the somber
silence of the scene.
"He shouldn't have come home this way," Joan Jones, a neighbor and longtime family friend,
said as tears ran down her cheeks.
The sight of the casket was difficult to bear, some said. But they also said the solemn
ceremony of the moment served to remind them that Arciola was killed in service to his country,
a hero's death that deserves full honor.
"It's been the worst week of my life," said Frank Longo, 19, who grew up with Arciola in the
same neighborhood. "It's really hard to watch. But it's a beautiful thing to see how this whole
community came together."
"When I heard he died, part of me died, too," said Marques Younger, 19, another childhood
friend. "It's really hard to take."
Teresa Arciola, Michael's mother, left the village yesterday morning with Mayor Robert
Williams, a number of other village officials, an Army representative and a contingent of police
and fire vehicles to drive to an Air Force base in Dover, Delaware, where her son's body
arrived last Thursday.
The hearse followed the emergency vehicles all the way back to Elmsford, their lights
The first of three wake services will be held tonight at the funeral home from 7 to 9 p.m.
Additional wakes are scheduled for tomorrow from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
Williams said the village would shut down the two center lanes of Main Street, or Route 119, for
The funeral will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on East
Main Street. The length of Main Street from Knollwood Road to Route 9A will be closed to
traffic, said Williams, who added that he expects thousands to attend.
Next week, Arciola will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Wake: 7 to 9 tonight; 3 to 5 p.m., 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at the McElroy-Flynn Funeral Home, 72
E. Main St., 914-592-6300.
Funeral: 11 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 59 E. Main St., 914-592-7575.
Elmsford soldier buried at Arlington
By JOSEPH AX
Courtesy of the Journal News
March 19, 2005
Under a virtually cloudless sky, with row upon row of unadorned, white granite headstones
casting shadows across Arlington National Cemetery, Army Private First Class Michael Arciola
was laid to rest yesterday afternoon among a quarter-million
100 mourners looked on, the honor guard solemnly folded the American flag that had draped
the 20-year-old Elmsford resident's coffin and presented it, along with his Purple Heart and
Bronze Star, to his mother, Teresa, who accepted it with tearful thanks.
"He deserved to be there," said Arciola's childhood friend and classmate Stephen Jones. "It's
amazing to know that he's there — I guess you could say a comfort. He died a soldier. He died
"Michael's now with brave heroes of American history," said Kevin Budzynski, a family friend
and Arciola's former baseball coach. "He's there with heroes big and small."
Arciola, who graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School in 2003, was killed by enemy
gunfire on Feb. 15 in Ramadi in western Iraq, the fourth Westchester County soldier to die in
Iraq or Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd
Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, based in South Korea.
The burial came on the first anniversary of the death of 26-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Anthony S.
Lagman of Yonkers, who perished in a firefight with insurgents in Afghanistan.
Since Arciola's death, the small community of Elmsford has lauded the young man for his
dedication to military service, his sunny disposition and his infectious sense of humor.
Dozens of friends and family members joined village officials, firefighters, police officers,
teachers and other residents who made the 260-mile trek to Arlington, where almost 290,000
people, mostly veterans, are buried at the 624-acre cemetery.
"The thing that amazed me the most was how many people came down here just for Mikey,"
Jones said. "It just showed how much he meant to everybody."
The day began with a somber Catholic funeral service at the Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer on
the edge of the cemetery. Inside the modest white church, grieving friends bowed their heads
as Jesus Navarrete, an Army chaplain, asked God to watch over Arciola in heaven.
Robert Arciola spoke briefly and movingly about his younger brother.
"I could probably stand up here for hours telling you about him," he said, his voice quavering
with emotion. "We all have our own memories, and we all have to be strong and let this make
us better people. He loved everybody who's here in their own special way."
The easygoing Arciola, who friends say was immensely popular in the community, had spoken
of joining the military since childhood, a desire that was only solidified after the terrorist attacks
of September 11, 2001.
The funeral procession, which included nearly 50 vehicles, wound its way from the chapel
through the cemetery to Section 60, where Arciola was buried underneath headstone No. 8105.
Arciola is the 123rd soldier killed in Afghanistan or Iraq to be interred at Arlington. All but one
soldier, who is buried near his father elsewhere in the cemetery, are buried side by side in
The endless rows of headstones bespeak an enormous grief, Budzynski said, but they also
serve as a reminder of honor and sacrifice.
"As sad as it is, they're heroes," he said. "Those are the Americans we need to honor."
Navarrete led another prayer at the grave, where the Arciolas — father Robert, mother
Teresa, brother Robert and sisters Casey and Amanda — sat in silence in front of the
gathering. A firing party standing at attention 200 feet away fired three volleys of shots into the
air, and a bugler played taps as the echoes faded into the air.
After she received the flag and medals, Teresa Arciola stood and quietly kissed the top of the
After the service, the mourners waited in line to say their final goodbyes, some speaking softly
with a hand on the casket while others bent and touched their lips to the coffin.
"The Arciola family should be proud of their son Michael," said Elmsford Trustee William
Zimkin, who attended the burial. "And I am very proud of the Elmsford community, the way they
supported the Arciola family."
Small N.Y. Town Buries a Favorite Son at Arlington
Young Soldier Who Wore No. 13 as an Athlete Is Remembered as a Leader
By Lila de Tantillo
Curtesy of the Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 19, 2005
On February 15, 2005, Army Private First Class Michael Anthony Arciola, 20, of Elmsford, New
York, was shot and killed by insurgents in Al Ramadi, Iraq.
Within hours of his death, the village of Elmsford -- one mile square and home to 4,600
residents -- went into mourning as news spread that it had lost a native son. The soldier's face
was on the front page of local papers for several days running; the mayor, Robert Williams,
paid a visit to the Arciola famil
Olguin, a wounded
soldier who served with his son in Iraq, during Michael Arciola's funeral
National Cemetery on March 18, 2005. Fallen soldier Michael Arciola
received a Purple
Heart, a Bronze Star, a Good Conduct Medal and a Combat Infantry Award.
Robert Arciola, the brother of the deceased, and his fiance, Allie Kovach,
are pictured to the left.
MA Arciola Funeral Services PHOTO
Monsignor Keith Dayton gives Teresa Arciola
the flag that covered the coffin of her
son Michael Arciola during his funeral at
Arlington National Cemetery on March 18, 2005.
Her children Amanda, Casey and Robert Arciola
are seated beside her.
MA Arciola Funeral Services PHOTO
From left, the family of fallen soldier Michael
Arciola, including his mother, Teresa, his sisters,
Amanda and Casey, his brother, Robert, his
brother's fiance, Allie Kovach, and his father,
Robert Arciola, sit beside the coffin during the
funeral at Arlington National Cemetery on March 18,
2005. Casey Arciola smiled at her brother when he
returned to his seat after saying his final farewell
and placing earth on the coffin
Robert Arciola of Elmsford
picks up a handful of earth
that he then placed on the
coffin of his brother Michael
Arciola during his funeral at
Cemetery on March 18, 2005
From front left, Amanda and Casey Arciola
say farewell to their brother, fallen soldier
Michael Arciola, during his funeral at
Arlington National Cemetery on March 18,
Robert Arciola, father of
Michael Arciola embraces the
flag that was on his son's
casket during funeral
services, Friday, March 18,
2005 at Arlington National
Courtesy of the Journal News
27 June 2005
ELMSFORD, NEW YORK — It was 4:30 a.m. When the telephone rang in Robert Arciola's room at the Hebrew
A groggy Arciola, who was recovering at the Valhalla nursing home from surgery to amputate his left leg, picked up
the receiver. A nurse told him his daughter, Casey, was downstairs.
She wasn't alone.
"As soon as she walked into the room, I saw the two guys in the uniform, I just start crying because I knew what was
up," Arciola said last week. "In fact, I wouldn't even let the kid read the message that they read to you. I said, 'Son,
you know, with all due respect, I love my country, I'm for the war and everything you guys stand for, but please don't
read that to me. I don't want to hear it.' "
That was the dark February morning when Arciola learned that his youngest child, Michael, had been killed by
enemy gunfire in Iraq. Michael, 20, was a machine-gunner assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment,
2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division when he died Feb. 15 in the western city of Ramadi.
"I kept saying, 'Maybe it's somebody else,' until we saw his body," Arciola said Thursday in the Elmsford house he
shares with his 86-year-old mother, Josephine.
Robert Arciola spoke publicly for the first time last week about losing Michael and how the small community of
Elmsford came together to support him in the wake of his son's death.
Sitting on a day bed in the basement den of his house on Rumbrook Road, his new prosthetic leg detached
because it was hurting him, Arciola's voice occasionally cracked with emotion as he spoke. His left eye, blind for two
years because of diabetes, watered as he pondered why Michael always was interested in the Army — from the
camouflage T-shirts he coveted as a boy to the $75 Army sleeping bag that was a Christmas gift one year.
"I was a right-winger, very much so. Everything was, 'Bomb 'em, bomb 'em, get rid of 'em,' " he said. "My mouth was
bigger than anything else, so he always listened to that, I guess, and sometimes I wonder if I was the cause of his
death. If I hadn't talked like that, maybe he wouldn't have joined the Army. I don't know."
Robert Arciola learned about 10 years ago that he had diabetes. His poor health left him unable to work. His illness
meant he was often home during Michael's childhood, so the two grew close.
"Like any other good father and son, they enjoyed doing things together," said Elmsford Mayor Robert Williams, who
met Robert Arciola in the early 1980s, when they both belonged to the Greenburgh Auxiliary Police. Arciola and his
son used to fish together, the mayor recalled. And for a time, the pair delivered pizzas, with the elder Arciola driving
and Michael running the pizzas to the doors.
As a boy, Michael surprised his father and mother, Teresa, with his athletic prowess. He excelled at all kinds of
sports, and his enormous drive distinguished him on the playing field.
As a Little League player, Michael once walked away from a losing game because his teammates had given up and
"He said, 'Why am I the only one who's supposed to hit the balls and score all the runs? They're not trying,' " Robert
Arciola recalled. "So he gathered up his stuff and walked out."
Always determined to be a soldier, Michael joined the Army in 2003 after graduating from Alexander Hamilton High
School. He spent a year in North Korea's demilitarized zone before being deployed to Iraq.
"He came home the beginning of last June and he said, 'Guess where I'm going?' and I said, 'I knew it,' " Robert
Arciola said. "It was no surprise."
On leave in January, Michael visited his father at the nursing home but spoke little of the war. That was the last time
Robert Arciola saw his son alive.
"He said, 'Don't worry about me, Dad. You know us Arciolas. We always bounce back,'" his father recalled.
After returning to Iraq, Michael had two more days off when a Marine unit needed two machine-gunners for a
mission and he volunteered. Even after he was shot, Michael stayed behind his machine gun, killing 22 insurgents
before he fell, his father said.
"It's nothing really to be proud of, but I'm proud of him," Arciola said, breaking into soft sobs. "It's wrong, I know it's
wrong to want somebody dead. You don't know which way to go. You want to be a good person, you want to live a
good life, and you teach your kids all your life to be good and help people, and maybe we did it too much. I don't
Arciola, 52, is not as conservative as he once was. His political views have softened, and he spends much of the
day lying on the day bed watching CNN.
Sometimes he talks to Michael, who was buried in March at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia after being
awarded the Bronze Star for heroism.
"He always wanted to be and he went down as a hero," Robert Arciola said. "Those medals really mean nothing to
you, you know. I mean, I'm proud of him, but I'm giving everything to my son, Robert."
The one memento that Arciola plans to keep is the folded American flag he received as a gift from Maj. Robert
McWilliams, who was assigned to help the Arciolas through the grieving process. McWilliams, whom Arciola calls "his
angel," wanted to do something to consecrate the flag.
"So, he took that flag upstairs, and my son was in the ice box for about two weeks before we buried him, so he put it
in his arms hugging it for two weeks, so it would mean something to me and it really did," Arciola said, starting to cry.
"It really made a big difference, so that one I'm keeping."
Robert Arciola is virtually blind and has lost one leg to diabetes, so he has found it nearly impossible to visit his
son's grave at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Listen as Robert Arciola explains the tribute to his son, with images by Journal News staff photographer Matthew
His solution: build his own backyard memorial, a granite monument and flag display paying tribute to his son and all
other Westchester service members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.
The 53-year-old town resident, whose son, Michael, was killed by sniper fire in February in Iraq, now is finished with
the project and has invited a host of dignitaries and relatives of fallen soldiers to his home for the official unveiling
today, Veterans Day.
"You know the saying, 'if you build it, they will come?' " he said, in reference to the movie "Field of Dreams." "I felt if I
built this monument for all of our sons, their souls would come here."
He calls it the Freedom Stone. The 4-foot-tall granite marker, surrounded by flowers and standing beside a flagpole,
lists the names of his son and other Westchester soldiers who died in action.
After months of hard work, everyone from the Elmsford mayor to Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, is expected to come
to Arciola's backyard at 28 Rumbrook Road to remember the young men who sacrificed their lives fighting overseas
in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
For Robert Arciola, this began with a personal struggle.
Last winter, he was left devastated, physically and emotionally, by diabetes. Doctors amputated his left leg.
His son, Michael, came to visit him at Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow; a photograph of the son smiling at
his father's bedside now takes a treasured place in Arciola's living room.
It was days after the photo was taken that Pfc. Michael Anthony Arciola — a 20-year-old former high school baseball
star — was sent to Iraq. A few weeks later, on February 15, the Army machine-gunner was shot dead.
Arciola, a former painting contractor who is disabled and lives with his elderly mother, had to be driven to the funeral
in Arlington by a friend.
While he was proud to see his son take his place among heroes of past wars, he hasn't returned. The trip is just too
Still, he has found other ways to keep his son's memory alive. Pictures of his son, from childhood through
graduation and into the armed forces, adorn walls and tables in his house.
He also wears his son's white Nikes and every day sits down at his Casio keyboard to play "My Girl," The
Temptations hit that was his son's favorite song. He thinks back to the times he'd play this and other Motown
classics during family road trips.
"I want to talk to my son and visit my son, and I need a place to go," he said of his backyard memorial. "My son
Michael was my hero. He's a patriot, and he belongs in Arlington, buried with the greatest in this country. But I know
his spirit will be here. I had a dream right after he died, and he said he would never leave me."
But he didn't do it just for his son. The stone lists four other Westchester service members who died — Bernard
Gooden Jr., Anthony Lagman, Kevin Cuming and David Ayala. He also will add the names of other local soldiers who
died since the monument's brass plates were cast.
"I figured everyone's in the same boat I'm in, with their sons buried far away," he said. "Their pain is my pain. I feel
like I'm bringing them home to the county where they grew up."
The flag flying from the pole was donated by a friend over the summer, and the granite slab was placed earlier this
week. Arciola has paid more than $4,000 for the project.
"I feel as though my son's home again," he said, walking beside the monument with the aid of a cane Wednesday.
"Now I could come outside and say 'Hey, Mike, how you doing today? How you doing, fellows?"
Some in Arciola's family won't attend the ceremony; his ex-wife is going to Arlington for a service. And a few
residents privately question the backyard tribute, considering it sad and strange.
But many others say they will support Arciola in his grief.
"This is a healing process for him," said Elmsford Mayor Robert Williams, today's master of ceremonies. "People
want to be there to support him and the family."
Arciola said today's dedication at 2 p.m. is just the beginning. He's inviting the public to come anytime, and he is
installing lights so people can visit at night.
He's hoping it will remind people of the sacrifices service members are making in the "War on Terror."
While he supports the war in Iraq, he said the monument is not about politics. "It's about the loss of our children," he
said. "It's something you really can't explain until it happens to you."
Elmsford to name field for fallen soldier
By REBECCA BAKER ERWIN
COURTESY OF THE JOURNAL NEWS
31 March 2006
Michael Arciola was the catcher of his Little League team, spending countless hours practicing and playing on the
baseball diamond at West Rumbrook Park in Elmsford.
Tomorrow morning, that field will be dedicated to Arciola, a 20-year-old who was killed last year by sniper fire in
The Elmsford Little League will host the ceremony immediately after its annual opening day parade, which starts at
10 a.m. The ceremony will also feature "Mike's Team," whose players are being sponsored by the Arciola family.
Arciola's father, Robert, choked back tears when he learned of the Little League dedication this week.
"That's amazing," the Greenburgh resident said. I'm overwhelmed. What can I say? It's a great honor."
Arciola was a machine-gunner assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry
Division, when he was killed by enemy gunfire Feb. 15 in Ramadi. He was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism and
buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Since then, Elmsford has renamed the playing field at Alexander Hamilton High School in his honor and created the
Michael Arciola History Award for seniors and the Michael Arciola Memorial Scholarship for a senior athlete who
The Elmsford Little League already has installed a bronze plaque in Arciola's memory and retired his Little League
number, 4. The sign naming the Little League field went up Saturday, but the dedication was delayed to coincide
with the parade, league secretary Steve Booth said.
"He was a star in the Elmsford Little League," Booth said of Arciola.
Booth said the members of "Mike's Team" will wear red uniforms at the request of the soldier's mother, Josephine
They also will wear ballcaps bearing a large "A" surrounded by a halo.
The haloed "A" is the logo of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Booth said, adding that it also fits the former
player it honors.
August 8, 2007:
A wake will be held today for Robert Arciola Sr., a disabled Elmsford resident whose 20-year-old son, Michael, was
killed in Iraq two years ago.
Arciola, 54, died over the weekend from complications from surgery at Phelps Memorial Hospital, according to a
written notice sent by the village.
Arciola publicly shared his grief over the loss of his youngest child, who was killed by enemy gunfire Feb. 15, 2005
in Ramadi. Michael Arciola was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism and buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Robert Arciola Sr. publicly shared his grief over the loss of his youngest son, and built a backyard memorial to
honor Michael's sacrifice.
Calling hours will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today at McElroy Funeral Home, 72 E. Main St. in Elmsford.
The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 59 E. Main St., in
ARCIOLA, MICHAEL ANTHONY
SPC US ARMY
DATE OF BIRTH: 01/05/1985
DATE OF DEATH: 02/15/2005
BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 8105
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Webmaster: Michael Robert Patterson
MA Arciola Gravesite PHOTO